CALGARY — Mike Weir made history at the 1999 Air Canada Championship at Northview Golf and Country Club in Surrey, B.C.
More than 20 years later, the 51-year-old golfer from Sarnia, Ont., is hoping for another historic victory at the 2021 Shaw Charity Classic at Canyon Meadows Golf and Country Club.
In September of 1999, Weir became the first Canadian to win a PGA Tour event on home soil since Pat Fletcher won the 1954 Canadian Open. Now, the 2003 Masters champion is hoping to become the first Canadian to win a PGA Tour Champions event in his home country.
“I’d love to be in contention come Sunday,” said Weir, who’s making his debut at the popular three-day event in Calgary that gets under way on Friday morning.
“That was a special memory at Northview in ’99, my first win on the Tour. Yeah, I’d love to be in contention and try to win again.”
To do so, Weir will have to fend of challenges from the likes of World Golf Hall of Famers Bernhard Langer and Vijay Singh as well as former Shaw Charity Classic champions Wes Short Jr. (2019), Carlos Franco (2016) and Jeff Maggert (2015).
“It’s super competitive … guys still take a lot of pride in their game and guys work hard, but we have fun, too,” said Weir, who has one win (2021 Insperity Invitational) and four runner-up finishes in his first 20 starts on the senior circuit for players aged 50 and older. “It’s good to see those familiar faces again. I’m healthy and very motivated after some time away and some injuries.”
The eight-time PGA Tour winner will start out on Friday playing in a grouping with Singh and Langer, who’s currently fourth in the season-long Charles Schwab Cup Standings, four spots ahead of Weir.
“There’s still a few tournaments I haven’t won on this tour and this is certainly one of them,” said Langer, who will celebrate his 64th birthday on Aug. 27. “I think I can play this course well, just a matter of getting everything going in the right direction all at once and firing on all four cylinders. It would be very nice to have a victory in Canada.”
Since the 2020 edition of the Shaw Charity Classic was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Short heads into this year’s event as the defending champion.
“If I can win again, I’ll be a three-time champion,” joked Short, who’s looking forward to playing in front of Canadian fans, even though the gallery will be limited to just 2,000 people a day. “Too bad it’s not full fans, but at least we’re playing. The fans really get behind the tournament and it makes it fun for us.”
Fans surrounding the 18th green on the final day of the 2019 event gave Short a huge cheer when his second shot on the par 5 finishing hole bounced off a rock in the hazard and onto the green. Short then calmly two putted to finish first by one shot over Scott McCarron, who came into the tournament as the two-time defending champion.
“It was a nice (bounce),” recalled Short. “It was the best I ever had. They asked me the year before last, ‘Do you want to take that rock with you?’ and I said ‘No, I might need it for next time, I’ll leave it here.’”
In addition to Weir, three other Canadians will tee it up in Calgary including Canadian Golf Hall of Fame member and former Calgary resident Stephen Ames.
Toronto’s David Morland IV will make his second straight appearance at the event, while Dennis Hendershott, of Brantford, Ont., will also make his debut.
Morland carded a 6-under round of 64 on the opening day of the tournament two years ago before shooting back-to-back rounds of 72 to finish well back in a tie for 34th spot.
“The golf course suits my eye,” said Morland, who has confidence he can improve upon his showing from 2019. “I look forward to playing close to home and hopefully we can finish it off this year.”
Hendershott received his invitation after he carded a final-round 64 to win the PGA Seniors’ Championship of Canada by one stroke over Danny King at Parcours de Vieux Village in Bromont, Que., last Friday.
“I’m pretty excited and pretty thrilled that (tournament director) Sean (Van Kesteren) and the committee decided to give me one of the spots,” said Hendershott, who’s hoping that he and his fellow Canadians can be in the mix to win come Sunday. “I’d love to see one of the four of us win this week.
“For me, that’s the only thing that’s going to change my life right now is a win or a top 10 to get into the next event and keep going. This is a very tough tour to get on, so you’ve got to set your goals pretty lofty, pretty high.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published August 12, 2021.